Knicks had marvelous run to Finals in 1994

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There was Patrick Ewing's moment, when he stretched out his arms for an all-inclusive hug-out with the Garden crowd. There was Hubert Davis and Hue Hollins. There was Reggie Miller.

And, oh yes, there was O.J.

The Knicks' run to the 1994 NBA Finals was marked by several unforgettable moments in an unforgettable spring for New York that also included the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup. The Knicks were unable to follow through and capture the unprecedented double for New York, but they were part of an amazing party at the Garden that lasted well into June.

"It was electrifying," John Starks said.

In 1994, Michael Jordan was on his baseball leave. Without him around, the Knicks finally were able to beat the Chicago Bulls in a seven-game Eastern semifinals epic. Referee Hollins made a controversial call against Scottie Pippen on a jump shot by Davis with 2.1 seconds left in Game 5 at the Garden that turned the series.

In the conference finals, the Knicks faced the Indiana Pacers and had to win a Game 6 in Indianapolis before a cathartic Game 7, which came down to one of the great highlights in Knicks history.

Starks drove to the basket with a half-minute left in the game and his layup bounced hard off the backboard. Enter Ewing. "All of a sudden, I see these two big hands come out of the sky and grab the ball and dunk it back in," Starks said. "I was like, 'Thank you!' "

The Knicks won it, 94-90, to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. The series opened in Houston against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets, and when it moved to New York, the Garden already was exhausted. The night before Game 4, the Rangers won the Cup. Several Knicks attended the Cup clincher - Anthony Mason was a regular and often wore a Rangers jersey - and caught the ticker-tape parade.

Game 5 produced more drama, as NBC split the coverage of the game to show O.J. Simpson's freeway chase in Los Angeles.

The Knicks were one win from the title when the series went back to Houston for Game 6. Starks had the championship on his fingertips when he used Ewing's screen and went up for a three-pointer in the final seconds, but Olajuwon closed quickly and partially blocked it to force Game 7.

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The nightmare then continued for Starks, who shot just 2-for-18 from the field in a crushing 90-84 defeat.

Ewing knows that was his one real chance at the elusive championship he never did win.

"There should've been two parades," Ewing said. "It's still hard to take, especially working in Houston and sitting in the players' locker room and seeing that picture of Hakeem blocking John's [Starks'] shot. But it was a great experience."

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